6.20.2006

Multi-sensory input

I knew this was going to happen. It's been 12 or so days since my last post. Can you blame me? Look outside. Who wants to spend their evenings and/or weekends online? Not I.

But since I have been thinking all day about typography during a design "camp" at MassArt (Advanced Expressive Typography with Liz Resnik, co-curator of the Graphic Imperative exhibit), I figured that perhaps I should jump on my blog and write down some thoughts I've had or have had passed on to me within the past two days.

So far, the class has simply been a well-needed refresher of basic typographical exercises. The same type/image exercises which I did about 4 years ago in John Kane's class (Northeastern), but since I have matured and have gained a greater interest in my field and a greater understanding of the significance of typography, I think now is a good time to be reminded of the basics. It is also beneficial to me to work on my process. I think that there was not enough emphasis placed on process when I was getting my degree, and I always wished that there had been a push for more.

Today, Liz brought in her colleague, also a professor of design at MassArt, Gunta Kaza, who spoke to us about process. She began her lecture by giving us something to work on while she spoke. Essentially, all we were doing was folding paper. Do you ever remember being called-out in class for doodling while the teacher lectured? Not in Gunta's class. She encouraged us to stay busy and while we carried out this busy work, she talked to us, and—OH MY!—we listened!!

Her point was to show us that the PROCESS of design is not something that happens while sitting at a computer screen waiting for that brilliant idea to "come" to you, but that process is actually multi-sensory input and occurs while you are observing and doing in different ways. She referenced the book "Meaning in Technology" by Pacey, which speaks to this point. Perhaps this is why there has been an increase in the comeback of hand crafts—knitting, sewing, etc.—which keep one's hands busy, at a time when everything is done digitally. This physical action essentially interrupts (or perhaps punctuates) our regular mental thoughts and causes the synapses of the brain to connect in different ways. These new connections are what lead us to make new discoveries and reach more developed solutions.

A fine example of how doing different tasks can aid and develop your process, is the story of Archimedes and his discovery of density. Supposedly, Archimedes was having trouble understanding how he could determine the density of an object. When he went to draw his bath, he noticed how when he climbed in, the water was displaced. He realized that he could measure the density of the object by placing it in a tub of water and measuring how much water was displaced! Whalaaa! This is known as the "Eureka" effect (not sure that's really a scientific term) and relates the significance of observation to ideas that come suddenly.

So, to sum it up—get off the damn computer and start sketching, sewing, weeding, painting—anything, and you'll have ten times as many ideas.

On that note ... I think I'll get to work on a BAG!

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